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Frequently Asked Questions for Retirees

Q: When will I receive my first pension payment?

You will receive your first pension payment, which will be retroactive to the date of your retirement, within two to three months. Your first payment will be direct deposited into your bank account.

Q. How do I log into and use my ERSRI Online Retirement Account?

ERSRI members can log into their online accounts here. First time users can self-register online as long as you have an email address on file with ERSRI.

If you don’t have an email address on file or if you need assistance logging in or setting up an online account please contact us using our Contact Us page or by phone at 401-462-7600.

The ERSRI Member Service Center is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Once you’ve logged in you can make updates your personal information and taxes and view your pension payment statements. To learn more about how to use your online account please click here

Q: How can I change my direct deposit information?

If you would like to make changes to your direct deposit information or set up a new direct deposit, please complete and return ERSRI's Direct Deposit form with a voided check. Please note that changes typically take one full month (from the date we receive your signed form) to take effect. 
Q: What is a COLA?
A COLA is a Cost Of Living Adjustment. Not all employers offer a COLA. 

On Nov. 18, 2011, the Rhode Island General Assembly enacted into law the Rhode Island Retirement Security Act of 2011 (RIRSA). RIRSA suspends a COLA for all State Employees, Teachers, Judges, State Police BHDDH Nurses and Correctional Officers until the plans' funding level for all groups, calculated in the aggregate, exceeds 80 percent.

For MERS, COLAs are suspended until the funding level of the individual plan exceeds 80 percent -- MERS plans are not aggregated. Depending on economic factors, for members with a suspended COLA, an interim COLA may be calculated and awarded every four years during the suspension period.

Per Rhode Island law, the  COLA is calculated based on equal parts of 50% of investment performance minus 5.00%, and 50% of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers.

Q: Why is the amount of my pension payment different?
Your benefit amount may be different if you have received a COLA, had a change in your healthcare or other deductions, or if the federal or state tax withholding tables have changed. You may change the amount of tax withheld from your check at any time by completing a Certificate of Withholding Tax Change, and mailing or faxing it to ERSRI at (401) 462-7691.

You may also make tax changes online by logging into your personal retirement account. Unfortunately, ERSRI staff cannot provide any tax advice to retirees; if you have questions about the amount of tax that should be withheld from your check, please consult your tax preparer or financial advisor.
Q: Can I work after I retire?
Yes, but post-retirement employment with the state of Rhode Island, Rhode Island public schools or any Rhode Island municipality participating in MERS is subject to restriction in accordance with Rhode Island General Laws. You can read about the requirements for post-retirement employment here.

If you do not comply with the post-retirement employment requirement, your pension benefit may be suspended and you may be required to re-pay any benefits you received, but were not due to you, during your post-retirement employment.
Q: Once I retire, can I change my option?
If you selected Option 1 or Option 2, you may change your option one time, as long as you and your beneficiary have not divorced; however, you may not change to SRA Plus. If you selected the Service Retirement Allowance (SRA) or SRA Plus payment options, you may not change your retirement option after you receive your first pension payment.
Q: Can I designate or change my beneficiary?
You may change your beneficiary for the death benefit payment at any time by completing a Beneficiary Designation Form, and mailing or faxing it to ERSRI at (401) 462-7691.
If you selected a joint and survivor pension payment option (Option 1 or Option 2) at time of retirement, you may not change the beneficiary you selected to receive your on-going pension payment after your death.  
Q: How do I notify ERSRI when I change my address or phone number?

Whenever you change your address, telephone number or email address, you should fill out a Change of Information form, and mail or fax it to ERSRI at (401) 462-7691.
Q: Am I eligible for health insurance?
ERSRI does not handle healthcare coverage matters for retirees. Please contact the Office of Employee Benefits with questions or concerns about your healthcare coverage eligibility.
Q: When will I get my 1099R form?
ERSRI issues 1099R form for retirees by Jan. 31 of each year. You should receive your form by mail in the following weeks. Additionally, your 1099R is available to download or print in your online retirement account. If for some reason you do not receive your form by mid-February, please call ERSRI at (401) 462-7600 and we will issue you a replacement 1099R.

The ERSRI Member Service Center is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Q: Will my survivors receive a death benefit?
Your designated beneficiary is eligible to receive a one-time death benefit payment regardless of pension payment option selected. The Benefit is $800 per year of completed service, up to a maximum benefit of $16,000 with 20 years of service. The death benefit reduces 25% each year of retirement to a minimum death benefit of $4,000.

Q: What is the Teachers Survivors' Benefit Plan?

The Teachers Survivors' Benefit (TSB) Plan is for Teachers, in participating school districts, who contribute to the fund, in lieu of Social Security, to provide benefits for their survivors in the event of their death. 

To learn more about how the TSB Plan works, please see Teachers Survivors' Benefit Information.